Sunday, 29 May 2016

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards. – Robert A. Heinlein

This writing journey is interesting, enlightening and, at times, overwhelming. It is fraught with highs and lows. Some days what pours onto the page enlivens me, other days it frustrates the heck out of me. Querying, synopsis writing and sending my work out into the big ol' world is exciting and intimidating. The whole process is an emotional roller coaster.

I have no desire to stop the ride and get off. It is what I do. It's what I've been focussed on for eight years. Now that I can write full-time, it has become an even more powerful force in my life. Yet, I have always been hesitant to identify myself as a writer. As I debate the financial wisdom of attending the Surrey International Writers' Conference again, I am reminded of the euphoria I felt listening to Jack Fallis' keynote speech, the final speech of the conference. He had noticed that all tags had names along with the addition of agent, editor, publisher, volunteer and writer. But many just had the place the person came from. He told us to take off our tags and put writer beneath our names. Because that was what we were, published or not.

That's when my thinking shifted. I began to treat writing as my job. I now dedicate several hours every morning, seven days a week. Sometimes I write longer, but it is rare that I skip a day.  I began to talk more openly with friends about my writing. I started to share snippets, something I was incredibly uncomfortable doing in years past.

The other day someone was here measuring our windows for shades and she asked what I do. I immediately said "I write." I actually said it aloud to a stranger! Now, perhaps it's because of the validation I am receiving from my queries. I have several full manuscript requests from agents based on the query letter and sample chapter(s). For my non-writer readers, that does not mean I am necessarily on the road to acquiring an agent but it does mean that my writing has something going on, enough to catch the attention of folks who know writing. And, I'll take that affirmation and save it for when I hit the lows of the journey.

But, I digress. Back to my easy response of "I write." She immediately asked what I'd written, and then wanted to know where she could buy my books. A year ago, I would have felt boxed in a corner, felt stupid for declaring myself a writer without having so much as an agent. But, not now. It was easy to answer. "Oh, I'm not published…not yet."

Saturday, 21 May 2016

I listen to the voices. —William Faulkner

While Lizzy is out touring the world via the query process (she's travelling at a leisurely pace and visiting only a few agents at a time), Mags has been making her way into her own story. She's very different from Lizzy. Whereas Lizzy is full of angst and anger, Mags is upbeat and bubbly and sees the good in everyone. Lizzy is disengaged from life; Mags revels in it. Unfortunately, she has recently found herself unexpectedly in a difficult situation. But, she is resilient and resourceful. She will find a way out. I know she will.

Tentatively, this is the opening paragraph. Mags is about to say goodbye to her childhood friends, knows that things will never be the same between them again, and she's struggling with it. So, without further ado, Dear Readers, meet Mags.

I love to laugh. I laugh 'til I snort like a pot-bellied pig. I know it's gross, but I can't help it. Snorting makes me laugh all the harder until I'm bent over with the pain and have to calm down before I die from not breathing. Yeah, I love to laugh. But not today. There's no laughter inside me today.


Saturday, 14 May 2016

“You can experience the same thing over and over again but how you feel about it will never be the same as the first.” ― Lik Hock Yap Ivan

I've been pondering firsts lately. Possibly because, in writing YA, I am engaged in creating many firsts. First kiss, first job, first love. As I've reflected back on my own youth even those harsh firsts—first heartache, first loss of friendship, first time living alone and being lonely—bring a gentle melancholy, a soft smile.

Dear friends of ours had to say goodbye to their little furbaby last week. Sophi, a beautiful little spirit, has been a part of their lives for fifteen years. I have thought about them all week and about how they too are living through firsts. The first night, the first morning, the first walk without her. As of today, they have passed the first week without her in their days. Those firsts are agonizing.

There are still landmark firsts to face like first month, first birthday and first year when the loss will bring a fresh surge of pain. But, our hearts have a way of easing it over time. Eventually, memories of Sophi will bring that gentle melancholy and soft smile.
Firsts. So bittersweet.

The incomparable Sophi.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

“The here and now is all we have, and if we play it right it's all we'll need.” ― Ann Richards

My apologies for my absence last week. The one thing that any kind of loss teaches you is that you need to stop sometimes and be in the here and now. So, that's what I did. I drastically reduced my time on computer and iPad and, instead, spent many peaceful hours in my gardens weeding and planting. I took long walks with the love of my life and played with my pups. I took the time to enjoy friends, old and new.

I did send out a handful of queries, but that is all I did in terms of writing. I think I needed a break from it. I write seven days a week and, while discipline is important, time off is essential too. I am feeling refreshed, renewed and ready to dive back into Mags' story. Querying? Well, perhaps I'll hold back on that task until I see if there is any feedback on the few I sent out. I'd rather direct my energy into creation right now. And, when my words are exhausted, I will remember to balance the remainder of each day with those other things that nurture my soul—my husband, my dogs, my friends. And, oh yes, my gardens. J